a skein, as of thread or yarn.
a definite length of thread or yarn: A hank of cotton yarn measures 840 yards.
a coil, knot, or loop: a hank of hair.
Nautical. a ring, link, or shackle for securing the luff of a staysail or jib to its stay or the luff or head of a gaff sail to the mast or gaff.

verb (used with object)

Nautical. to fasten (a sail) by means of hanks.

Origin of hank

1175–1225; Middle English < Old Norse hǫnk hank, coil, skein, clasp; akin to hang
Related formsun·hanked, adjective




a male given name, form of Henry.


[air-uh n, ar-]


the older brother of Moses, usually regarded as the first high priest of the Hebrews. Ex. 28; 40:13–16.
Henry LouisHank, born 1934, U.S. baseball player.
a male given name.




Henry B.Hank, 1911–86, U.S. baseball player.
Joseph Harold,1915–2001, U.S. linguist.




AngeloHank, 1916–2002, U.S. basketball player.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hank

Contemporary Examples of hank

Historical Examples of hank

  • The trousers which had lain on the floor beside Hank's bed were no longer there.

  • The hands of Hank Rainer fell suddenly, but now lower than his beard.

  • Whatever other failings might be his, there was no great cowardice in Hank Rainer.

  • After his explanation Hank withdrew to the darkest corner of the room and was silent.

  • The story of Hank Rainer had been told in half a dozen words.

British Dictionary definitions for hank



a loop, coil, or skein, as of rope, wool, or yarn
nautical a ringlike fitting that can be opened to admit a stay for attaching the luff of a sail
a unit of measurement of cloth, yarn, etc, such as a length of 840 yards (767 m) of cotton or 560 yards (512 m) of worsted yarn


(tr) nautical to attach (a sail) to a stay by hanks

Word Origin for hank

C13: of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse hanka to coil, Swedish hank string



Old Testament the first high priest of the Israelites, brother of Moses (Exodus 4:14)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hank

late 13c., probably from a Scandinavian source, e.g. Old Norse honk, hank "clasp, hank," related to hang (v.).


masc. proper name, in the Old Testament the brother of Moses, from Hebrew Aharon, probably of Egyptian origin. The Arabic form is Harun. Aaron's beard as a type of herb is from 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper